NJAFBIT: Inglorious Basterds


You gotta hand it to Brad Pitt; he's making it almost impossible to hate him these days. Realistically, if you look at his output as a whole, he's pretty much ALWAYS been in cool movies. It's easy to forget how many. Since his breakout in Thelma & Louise (itself nothing to scoff at,) he's bounced from Cool World to Kalifornia, to Se7en, to Fight Club, to last years fantastic Burn After Reading and Benjamin Button, never going more than a couple years without appearing in something great. He's co-starring with (WTF?) Mike Myers, straight off his blockbuster star-making turn in The Love Guru.

The trailer shows shades of both Tarantino's lamer side (Pitt's lousy, boring monologue,) and awesome side (some fun, Kill Bill-ish action moments.) Worth betting that both sides will turn up in the finished film, but in what proportion, who can say. The problem I'm having more and more with QT movies is my inability to just listen to what these people are saying, without picturing it coming from the mouth of QT himself. This is the major problem with outspoken, wordy filmmakers (ie. Kevin Smith, et al.)

But, much as I may try to resist, I end up seeing every Tarantino movie in the theater. He is one of the defining filmmakers of our generation, and I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt until he gives me reason to think otherwise. For a 'teaser,' this gives a pretty damn good indication of what we will be getting. I'm intrigued enough not to immediately dismiss it.

PREDICTION: Imperfect, funny, weird, awkward.



LOG: Targets

Boris Karloff is, and will ever be, my favorite actor. I love him. He had the greatest voice, and one of the greatest presences in all of the movies. Targets was, by all accounts, his last important (read: good) film, finished and released less than a year before he would succumb to emphysema-related pneumonia at age 81. Famous names surround the production; Roger Corman produced, and Bogdanovich took the script to Sam Fuller for some uncredited rewrites. Karloff made $22,000 dollars for appearing in this film, refusing to accept pay for the additional time he worked (past the 2 days he owed Corman from a previous commitment.)

I could sing the praises of Bogdo all day long, but mostly as they relate to his excellent writing abilities. As a filmmaker, apart from this and The Last Picture Show, his output borders on dreadful, and in recent years he has retreated into menial acting jobs. But he is an ever-present, if oft-maligned, force on DVD and in film scholarship, and I say let him talk.

If Targets isn't a masterpiece, it's because the parallel plot lines (1- Karloff as washed up horror star, 2- Young man goes on rifle-fed killing spree) don't necessarily pair all that well. But they do pair well enough intellectually that you can concede the idea of the film, particularly knowing the restrictions that Bogdo had handed down to him from Corman. As meta-Karloff, the film succeeds, but only because Karloff was exactly the kind of man who could own up to the biographical aspects of Bogdo's script. When Boris is not on screen, however, the film suffers badly. What would you expect?

Putting what you know will be considered your film 'epitaph' in the hands of a young, unproven director? That's just Karloff doing what he always did- being the greatest professional of his time.

Strangely, this DVD has gone out of print. It's a gem at it's original $5.99 asking price (I think I bought it at a K-mart.)